Can Input Subsidy Programs Contribute to Climate Smart Agriculture?


November 7, 2017 - Author: T.S. Jayne, Nicholas J. Sitko, and Nicole M. Mason

T.S. Jayne, Nicholas J. Sitko, and Nicole M. Mason, 2017. Can Input Subsidy Programs Contribute to Climate Smart Agriculture? Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Paper 87. East Lansing: Michigan State University.

See also:
Thomas S. Jayne, Nicholas J. Sitko, Nicole M. Mason, and David Skole. 2016. Can Input Subsidy Programs Promote Climate Smart Agriculture in Africa? Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Brief 16. East Lansing: Michigan State University

ISPs may serve several catalytic functions at a system-level, including seed systems and input distribution system, which can support CSA objectives. However, substantially improving the performance of ISPs will require coordinated public and private investments in areas such as site-specific adaptive research and extension, which are necessary to turn potential CSA practices into profitable and adoptable farm management strategies.

Based on this analysis we propose the following as potential focal areas for improving the climate smartness of ISPs in Africa:
- Support greater concentration of ISPs on climate smart seed varieties, including drought and heat tolerant varieties and legumes. Many ISPs currently focus primarily on staple cereal crops and fertilizers, with little attention paid to the characteristics of either. For ISPs to have a more system-wide effect on cropping systems and management practices, seed system constraints for other crops must be addressed. ISPs can serve a catalytic role in this respect.
- Develop detailed farm registries for ISP beneficiaries: Detailed registries, that include geo-spatial information, are necessary to delivery support services such as weather-indexed insurance to farmers and to track adherence to targeting criteria.
- Explore the potential for using ISPs to overcome CSA farm management adoption constraints, bearing in mind that:There is currently limited consensus on what practices are most effective for heterogeneous smallholder systems; Extension advice and monitoring capacity remains very thin in most of Africa; and Governments may resist changing ISPs in ways that as yet have unproven benefits or may not be popular with farmers.
- System support to improve timing of input distribution through ISPs: ISPs chronically deliver fertilizer late (Xu et al. 2009; Namonje, Jayne, and Black 2014; Snapp and Fisher 2015). Late delivery reduces yields and crop response to fertilizer. This unfavorably affects the ratio of crop output to GHG emissions. Improving the timeliness of ISPs would clearly contribute to the achievement of CSA objectives.
- Improve beneficiary targeting of ISPs: ISPs must more effectively target farmers who can use fertilizer profitably but are not already using it (or using it well below levels considered to be profit maximizing). This will reduce crowding out of commercial demand and contribute to increased fertilizer use. In addition, effective targeting of farmers and regions affected by weather-induced disaster can help ISPs to support ex post household and system-wide recovery efforts.
- Use extension systems to show farmers how the use of fertilizer from ISPs and/or commercially obtained fertilizer can become more profitable when complementary SI/CSA practices are adopted.



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